Just like humans, dogs too are social animals. Like us they too go through separation anxiety, the only difference being they show it through chewing, scratching, barking, peeing, defecating and whining which can be very conveniently mistaken as inadequate dog training. However, keep an eye for these symptoms and see if this behavior is generic or induced because of isolation.
To understand separation anxiety better. Let’s first understand what makes our furry friends anxious.
- The Breed of your dog plays an important role in this context. Breeds which are naturally social and people pleasing are more prone to separation anxiety when compared to other breeds which don’t mind isolation. Make sure you research about the general behaviors of your dog’s breed. Few breeds that commonly suffer with separation anxiety when you leave are Poodles, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers.
- Distressing past experiences and severe life changes could also be influential triggers to the anxiety. Typically, dogs with traumatic past or dogs which were rescued from adverse conditions could be very sensitive to loneliness. If you have recently engaged in major life changes like moving to new places, extreme work timings or rigorous travel, your dog might be developing separation anxiety.
Solutions for separation anxiety are neither straightforward nor universal. Every pooch has a peculiar behavior while feeling anxious and there is a different way to deal with it. You have to implement a trial and error approach to find the perfect solution for your own pup.
Anxiety in pets can be at different levels which vary from mild to extreme.Hence, the solutions to the problem need to vary respectively.
Mild cases of anxiety can be improved by quickly replacing the troublesome behavior with something that will cheer your doggy. You can give him his favorite treat just before you leave which will distract him for a while or you can leave him with his chewy toy to make him feel better in the moment. This will help him associate you leaving the home with something cheerful and will get over the mild frustration. These techniques might not work for the poor bow wows dealing with worse levels of anxiety.
Following are few things you can try to help your dog overcome his issues.
Physical Exercise can go a long way: A long walk or some fun physical games where your dog gets to jump around can prove to be very good for your dog’s temperament. The energy exerted from the exercise could be very relieving not only for separation anxiety but also for other behavioral issues that your dog might be dealing with. Physical exertion will also help your pup to sleep easily when you are away from him.
Don’t make your going away noticeable: Just out of love for your precious pooches, you may want to say a proper goodbye before you leave, However, this might not be a bright idea considering it will only alleviate the levels of anxiety in your pet. Instead, try to do your goodbyes way before to leave and don’t indulge in noticeable gestures of saying goodbye to your dog when you leave or greet him when you come back. If he is resting while you are planning to make a move, it could be the best thing to sneak out without alarming your pup.
Get a heavyduty dog crate: If your dog is destructive and damages the crate and/or hurts himself and escapes, it’s time to invest in a strong dog crate that is durable.
Practice makes your pup Perfect: Make your dog acquainted with his alone time. The best way to do this would be by leaving your dog alone for short periods of time and letting him get used to being isolated. Start with little intervals of time as short as 5 minutes, when you can go away and leave him alone, as he starts to get accustomed to separation gradually increase the interval time to improve the progress. Hopefully, he would learn to stay by himself for even hours when you are not around.
How about a new buddy for your buddy? A more permanent solution could be adopting another dog. This might make your dog feel more comfortable in your absence. Dogs usually live in packs, so this would create a sort of natural habitat for him where he doesn’t always would need your attention.
Customized Crate Castle for your Canines: Personalize your pooch’s crate with his favorite toys. Make the crate a fun place for him to spend time with treats and food placed in it. Play games with him when he is in the crate. Make him comfortable in the crate so that he would not feel left out. Build your poodle prince his very own crate castle.
Turn to Technology: These days there are some cool tech gadgets which will help the Paw-Parents to track their pups while there are away. Research about the new technology in this space and invest in a monitoring device which suits your preferences.
Human Voices for comfort: You can leave a voice recording or an audiobook playing for your dog as few dogs might feel comforted with the sound of a human voice. Various studies vouch for this approach in minimizing anxiety levels in dogs caused by separation.
Follow and Don’t Wallow: The best solution for the anxiety issue would be to take your dog with you everywhere you go. Let it follow you and experience things outside of your house with you. This might also mean taking a trip with your dog. Try new places and things with your canine buddy, his company could more enriching then you would have expected. However, there are always places which restrict entry of pets into their premises.Hence, always make your dog prepared to stay isolated if situation may arise.
Stay calm and Affirmative: The worst thing that can happen to you is when you get anxious because of your pet’s anxiety. Stay calm and positive while you leave him alone and also while you train him to be alone. If you get anxious, you might not be able to help your furry buddy with his anxiety optimally.
Resources and further reading